A pilot program involving longer hours divided into two shifts is the latest step to reduce the cost of garbage collection in Union.
Union City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to implement a six-month program that divides the workdays of the public service department's sanitation divisions into “A” and “B” shifts for collecting garbage, bulk waste and yard waste. Sanitation division employees will continue to work five days a week but the workday will be lengthened from eight hours to 10 with no overtime except for emergencies.
Public Services director Perry Harmon explained that the program is an outgrowth of the changes resulting from increased automation of garbage collection. The city already has one garbage truck that uses a mechanical arm to empty garbage cans. The vehicle can be operated by the driver as opposed to the traditional rear-loaded garbage trucks that require a driver and two other employees to ride along and empty garbage.
Council included funds for a second automated garbage truck in the 2008-2009 budget and Harmon said this will largely replace a rear-loaded garbage truck still in use. He said the reductions in personnel allow the city to look into reorganizing garbage collection to reduce costs even more. The pilot program will enable the city to determine if such changes are feasible.
Mayor Bruce Morgan said the plan is part of the city's ongoing efforts to increase efficiency and reduce costs, especially fuel costs.
“This is a continuation of the program we started several years ago that reduced the number of employees in that department from 21 to 14,” he said. “That allowed council to reduce the garbage fee by 20 percent beginning July 1.
“We think these new measures will move us to the next step of reducing cost even further in that department,” he said. “If this pilot program works for the public service department we may also implement it in our other departments.”
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve, and Morgan signed, an agreement to meet all requirements for a $99,900 Rural Businesses Enterprise Grant to help upfit the spec building for the new Timken Industrial Service Center.
The grant will be used to help cover the cost of installing heating and air conditioning in the building, located in Union Commerce Park. The city is paying up to $1.5 million to upfit the building, which is being leased by Timken for $150,000 a year for 10 years with options to renew it in two-year increments.
The city and the county have agreed that property taxes paid by Timken on the building will be used to compensate the city for the cost of the upfit.
Timken is investing $5 million in equipment for the service center, which will be fully operational in early 2009 and employ 30 people. The facility will provide industrial bearings services now located in Timken's Tyger River plant. While the new facility will focus on providing repair and other support services to Timken customers, the Tyger River plant - which employs 600 people - will focus on manufacturing ball bearings.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second and final reading of the 2008-2009 budget ordinance.
The $50,356,900 budget is $2,506,900 more than the current budget. The increase is due primarily to the increased cost of fuel and capital improvement projects the city must make in the coming year. However, the budget does not include either a property tax increase or a hike in utility rates.
Council also voted unanimously to approve second and final reading of the ordinance setting the tax levy at 74.3 mills.